If you are a parent, like me, you now face weeks – if not months – of entertaining your children at home following the government’s decision to close schools because of the coronavirus pandemic.
What with the uncertainty surrounding the economy and people’s jobs, many of us will want to find a way to keep our family sane without breaking the bank. Also, we will have to juggle looking after our children with working from home – not an easy task!
So, before you make full use of your Amazon Prime subscription and order the site’s entire stock of Lego, check out these activities that you can do at home. All are free and some may even buy you some much-needed time to yourself.
All you need for this are furnishings from your home. Set out chairs, coffee tables, blankets and pillows to make an obstacle course in any room in the house. Then use your phone to time each child as they make their way around. If they are competitive, see how quickly they can go, and maybe make a leaderboard of the fastest times. Then, when they find that course too easy, change it and make it a bit more challenging for them.
Imagination is free, so get thinking. If you have pen and paper to hand, you can run a family story writing competition. For example, each member of the family has 15 minutes to write a short story. It can be about anything they like, and when the time is up, everyone gets to read theirs out.
If you have children who are not yet writing, then just start imagining. Start a story that they can add a chapter to. My children love to make up a pirate story, with each chapter involving a new quest to find the treasure. No pen and paper involved, just us talking and coming up with ideas.
Just because you are stuck in the house doesn’t mean you can’t stay active. There is a wide range of online fitness videos designed to get kids moving. The Body Coach, Joe Wicks, announced that he would be running a live PE lesson at 9am from Monday to Friday on his YouTube channel. The sessions will be 30 minutes long and completely free. Similarly, Strictly Come Dancing star Oti Mabuse is streaming live kids’ dance lessons on her YouTube channel.
Alternatively, if you just need something calming but active for the kids to get on with, Cosmic Kids Yoga (also on YouTube) has a wide range of videos of varying length. Each one has a theme, such as Pokemon or Alice in Wonderland, to help capture your child’s imagination.
This activity also has the advantage of buying you a little time to be able to get on with some much-needed work tasks.
It can be a lonely time for some of us as we look to self-isolate or practise social distancing. So why not video-call a family member who you are not able to meet in person at the moment?
Maybe turn it into a bit of a family research project. Ask questions such as what was their first memory? Or what was their favourite job? Children could then use the answers to make a book featuring each member of their family.
Making something out of your rubbish is a great home activity that won’t cost you a thing. Have a look through your recycling to see if there is anything you can repurpose.
Cereal boxes, yogurt pots, toilet roll tubes and egg boxes can all be used to create something new. Then let your children’s imagination run wild. You could have a robot-making competition, create a dinosaur world, or make your own postbox – all with what you already have in the house.
If your children are relatively computer savvy, then this activity may be one that they do independently. Museums, art galleries, theme parks and zoos all around the globe are offering the chance to take a virtual tour. How interactive the tours are depends on the individual location. But your children could spend the afternoon wandering the halls of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History or checking out what the penguins are doing in San Diego Zoo.